Yokus Island Express Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Developer: Villa Gorilla
Publisher: Team 17
Release Date: Out Now
Price as of Article: $17,99 USD, £15,99 GBP or £29,99 for a physical copy which can be purchased below.
Game code provided by Team 17 for review
Yokus Island is about a small beetle who gets washed up to a mystical island named Mukumana. You take control of the cute little beetle having been given the responsibility of Postmaster. It’s here on your travels through this wonderfully depicted island that you begin meeting it’s wonderfully charming inhabitants and uncover the fact that the island’s god has been attacked. Its up to you to find out why and who the attacker is.
With so many 2D platformers on the Nintendo Switch already you would be forgiven for thinking that this is just another platformer but hold your horses. What If I were to say that in this platformer you can’t actually jump? You can move the cute little beetle left and right and he has this ball attached to him much like a ball and chain. I almost felt sorry for the little fellow having to push this thing around wherever he goes but it was his little boat after all.
This is a 2D platformer mixed with Pinball in a Metroidvania style so we could say it’s Pinballvania and there ladies and gentleman is a new genre. If you are getting on a bit like me then you may remember Sonic Spinball on the Megadrive or Mario Pinball on the GBA. These are the only games that are kind of close to what this is but they were a lot more focused on Pinball and didn’t allow for too much else.
This focuses a lot more on exploration and pinball as the mechanic to traverse our little hero around the map. It’s just very clever in the way it’s done. Imagine playing Sonic the Hedgehog and having flippers hit him on the backside to send him quickly through pathways on a level when needed.
As you move left or right you will come across yellow and blue flippers and some which are both colours. Each colour is assigned to either the left or right trigger on the Nintendo Switch and the flippers which are both colours can be activated by either trigger. These flippers are used for various things, either to send you upwards, sometimes sideways and other times down. There are areas of the map which you reach where you will have to play miniature pinball games to unlock gates, rescue characters to help you with a boss or to unlock a mega load of fruit. These parts of the game are super enjoyable in their own right and I love that they have actually incorporated Pinball minigames into the map as it makes this change up compelling every time.
Just the making your way around the map is fun, uncovering secrets or going super speed through tunnels from one part of the map to another. It’s just genius, and I found myself instantly hooked in exploring as much of the map as I could. Finding the next hidden area, or finding a flipper which was placed to give me the ability to make a jump to a new area.
Fruit is plentiful and is used to unlock certain flippers to get you to other parts of the map or to unlock the Bee Line which is an awesome way of fast travelling from one part of the map to another using a cannon to shoot the beetle from one cannon to another. Pressing A will drop you out of a cannon at any point, once these are unlocked it’s much easier to get around which is a godsend. The game also saves your progress everytime you step onto a checkpount which is a little pink flower.
The A button is also used to interact with characters which is important as you will be able to unlock quests or further parts of the story to drive you forward. Handily each part of the map is updated letting you know where each quest is located and it’s up to you which quests you want to tackle first.
As with any Metroidvania type game, there will be parts of the map which are inaccessible at first but this changes as you get further. I don’t want to give too much away as these extra skills our controllable beetle uncovers are not what you might expect and just brings a real joy to any player wishing to play this.
An early example is finding slugs which you can use to stick to your ball by getting close enough to them and then pressing both trigger buttons together to activate the slug sticking on. If you miss it will blow up leading to you having to try again. These slugs, when attached to the ball, can then be used to clear up certain obstacles. That’s right! slugs which explode and there a few more examples like this. It makes discovering each new wacky thing a joy!
Then there are collectables which completionists will just love, having to find post boxes to post letters is one example or delivering packages, another. You can’t die in the game as such but there are points in the game where it is quite challenging and will require skill. I am talking about certain Pinball sections which can be difficult to complete the task at hand.
In these sections, you will need to send the ball up certain ramps to unlock gate keys which then have to be collected by hitting them with the ball. Patience and accuracy is required in these parts. Sometimes it can be a little frustrating trying to get everything you need. In Pinball it can be game over relatively quickly but here you can just continue until you get everything you need to move to the next section. It keeps the game really nice and accessible and while it’s not the most challenging game you will ever play, I think the difficulty is pitched just right.
Boss battles are nice and imaginative even though you may think there is only so much you can do with the boss battles and was certainly another highlight of the game.
A frustration you will come across though is sending the ball through the correct pinball paths that you need to go through. Unlike a platformer where you can control where you go with precision most of the time, here you have to hit the ball towards the right path only sometimes with the unpredictable nature of Pinball you can end up going the wrong way. I had to sometimes try these sections multiple times to get my beetle and connected ball to the right place but again it’s a minor complaint and is just the nature of this game.
There are sometimes moments where you get a little lost and while a quick glance at the map tells you where you need to go, it’s not always obvious how to get there and that will mean a little backtracking from time to time which may annoy some and is something to consider if your not into the Metroidvania style of this game.
The audio on this game is delightful and sets the mood of the game really well. There are sections where the music is nice and relaxed and others where it’s tenser. Sound effects, for the most part, are good enough. There is no voice acting but the little noises the inhabitants make are really charming. I think overall the game succeeds very well in the audio department.
I love the visuals in this game, I just think everything is so well done. From the lush greens of the village to the snowy mountains all the way to those mystical underwater parts of the game. Everything just draws you into this little world. The game runs wonderfully both in docked and handheld mode, the characters are drawn really nicely and even details on the little beetle being so small just look adorable.
In terms of value, the game is £14,99 and $17,99 respectively. You will get around 7 hours on the main adventure and add a few more hours to complete the game 100%. This game will have you hooked and you won’t be able to put it down until the adventure is complete. Replay value comes in completing the game 100% but after else there is little else to keep you coming back for more. The game could have done with a few more modes but this is a game I may come back too again in time as I enjoyed it so much.
Original and unique gameplay fusing some great genres together
Can get lost at times
Can be frustrating hitting your ball through the wrong paths